Protecting the Fourth Amendment, Hunter Biden Apologizes

Grind for October 16th
“The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity.”
– Harlan Ellison

Deja Vu

The Headline

Are random police searches a violation of the Fourth Amendment?

The Grind

The Los Angeles Police Department announced this week it would stop pulling over random vehicles after an investigation by the LA Times revealed officers were pulling over black and Latino drivers at disproportionately high rates.

My concern here is not racial profiling, but the policy itself, which asks officers to stop vehicles without probable cause.

Not only is the vehicle stop policy a blatant violation of the Fourth Amendment, but it hasn’t been successful. According to the Times investigation, the stop vehicle policy results in arrest about 1% of the time (but causes discomfort for drivers 100% of the time).

Furthermore, the policy required LAPD’s Metro Division to more than double its ranks and created a more than 1,000% increase in the number of cars stopped per year.

“Even though we’re recovering hundreds more guns and those firearms represent real weapons and dangers to a community, what are we doing to the tens of thousands of people that live in those communities and their perception of law enforcement?” asks Police Chief Michel Moore.

The Details

Starting in November, LAPD’s Metro Division will limit random searches and focus on tracking down suspects (which is what they should have been doing in the first place).

City leaders have also asked the LAPD to end pretextual stops – when an individual is stopped for a minor violation and then investigated for more serious wrongdoing.

This strategy is also illegal per a 2015 Supreme Court ruling which states that any police stop “exceeding the time needed to handle the matter for which the stop was made violates the Constitution’s shield against unreasonable seizures.”

Not surprisingly, the union that represents LA police officers opposed the change.

“The Chief’s decision to buckle to the demands of anti-police groups like the ACLU, who have zero interest in ensuring criminals are arrested, is deeply disappointing,” said the group. “We do not support this reckless gamble that will lead to the further victimization of people of color by criminals and gang members.”

The Takeaway

At the end of the day, it is not a question of whether the vehicle stop policy was effective or racially biased, but a question of whether the policy is a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

This is similar to what happened in New York City in 2013, when a judge deemed the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program to be racially discriminatory and unconstitutional. Cops had been directed to stop, question, and search civilians based on ‘reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing.’ In many cases, that suspicion was based on race.

At the height of the program, the NYPD was conducting more than 680,000 stop-and-frisks per year.

Like LA’s vehicle stop program, the stop-and-frisk strategy resulted in few arrests and created lasting tensions between civilians and police. And it was illegal from the beginning.

Fat Chance

The Headline

Hunter Biden says he won’t work with foreign countries if Dad wins the election

The Grind

Hunter Biden this week promised not to work on the boards of any foreign companies if his father is elected president in 2020.

Hunter has been accused of using his father’s position as Vice President to benefit from business dealings in China and Ukraine.

“Despite extensive scrutiny, at no time has any law enforcement agency, either domestic or foreign, alleged that Hunter engaged in wrongdoing at any point during his five-year term” serving as a board member for Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings, explained Hunter’s lawyer George Mesires.

Hunter’s obscure work for Burisma had been the subject of an investigation in Ukraine, but the case was dropped after then-Vice President Joe Biden threatened to withhold money from Ukraine unless the prosecutor general was fired.

Joe Biden says the move had nothing to do with his son, and Hunter continued to rake in a massive paycheck from Burisma until April 2019.

Hunter Biden also serves on the board for Chinese-backed private equity company BHR, but plans to resign by Halloween. According to Mr. Mesires, Hunter has received no compensation for the job.

The Details

To this day, Hunter claims he never discussed his business activities with his father.

“Hunter always understood that his father would be guided, entirely and unequivocally, by established US policy, regardless of its effects on Hunter’s professional interests,” reads a statement published by Mesires. “He never anticipated the barrage of false charges against both him and his father by the President of the United States.”

This summer, Trump asked the Ukrainian President to revisit the Biden investigation. Democrats used the request to launch an impeachment inquiry, after which Trump publicly asked China to investigate Hunter based on suspicions he walked away with $1.5 billion after a visit to Beijing in 2013.

Sounds like Hunter is admitting to making a living on his father’s position. Now, he’s apologizing in hopes that all of this won’t affect his father’s presidential campaign.

Did you know… The first hard drive available for the Apple II had a capacity of only 5 megabytes.